More than 100 University of Florida students are temporarily living at the Holiday Inn on the northeast corner of University Avenue and NW 13th Street, according to the hotel’s guest services manager, Joseph Scannella.
LynCourt Square and Lyons Corner, both owned by Union Properties of Gainesville, Inc., were expected to be completed in time for an Aug. 1 move-in date. However, unforeseen circumstances altered that plan.
Rhonda Derus, president of Union Properties of Gainesville, Inc., said the delay was caused by problems encountered during demolition of the building previously on the site. She also said the steel company took longer than anticipated to construct the foundation, which threw the entire job off schedule.
“The complexities of building a five story building on a fairly small footprint also ads obstacles along the way,” Derus said. “The streets on each side of the building have had to be closed at various times to accommodate the large equipment needed for the job.”
When Jeffrey Honig, a 22-year-old civil engineering student in his fifth year at UF signed a lease for Lyons Corner he noticed a clause stating that if their apartment was not completed on time, storage and housing would be provided until they could move in.
“I really did not think they would be late with construction with the thought that it would cost a lot of money to pay for a hotel room and storage for every person expected to move in,” Honig said.
The Holiday Inn’s availability to accommodate the large group of students, as well it’s proximity to the university and group room rate led it to become the temporary home of the displaced residents.
“As far as I know, we have not had a group of this size stay with us because of displacement from an apartment complex,” Scannella said. “Frequently over the summer we will have students stay with us for a few days either before or after their leases start or end, but that is only a few guests, not a group of this size.”
The large number of student guests presented hotel staff with new challenges, such as an increase in room cleaning services and utilization of the business center’s free printing.
Scannella said parking at the hotel has been an issue with the students.
“Because we are so busy over the fall with the home football games, we can only allow one parking spot per room,” he said. “Many of [the students] signed leases with their apartment guaranteeing a parking spot, but we have been creative in helping find parking alternatives for the students.”
Despite the inconvenience of living in a single room rather than an apartment, second-year biomedical engineering student at UF, Madeline Fuchs, has found a few positive features of living in a hotel.
“The hotel staff is nice and very accepting of college students running around,” Fuchs said. “They give us breakfast at the hotel, which is awesome—continental breakfast.”
Chase Choate, a 22-year old history senior at UF, said he was at first skeptical of living in the hotel.
“It’s different because hotels are usually for vacation, but it’s been fun,” Choate said. “The whole floor is college students and I know a few girls and some of my fraternity brothers living here so it’s not like usual when you stay at hotels with your parents.”
Future residents of LynCourt Square and Lyons Corner have still not been given an exact move-in date, although the anticipated completion date is later this month.
Derus said the exact move-in date will be determined within the next two weeks.
“We are looking forward to getting our tenants into their new apartments and very much appreciate how understanding they have been in light of the inconveniences they have been through,” she said. “We have worked very hard to maintain strong relationships with our tenants and will continue to let them know how important they are to us.”